Purpose: To assess immediate and near-term effects of an instructional set on select gait parameters in people living with Parkinson disease (PD).
Subjects: Five individuals with early stage PD participated in a within subject design in Part One. Eleven individuals with early stage PD were randomly assigned to a treatment group (n = 5) or a control group (n = 6) in Part Two.
Methods: The treatment consisted of a 10-day training program of walking 1800 feet per day and with the instructions to take long steps. Testing occurred before treatment (baseline), immediately after treatment, one week after treatment, and one month after treatment. Measurements of step length, velocity, and cadence were taken without the use of the instructional set.
Results: There was a significant increase in step length and velocity and a significant decrease in cadence between baseline and all post-test measures for part one. For part 2, step length of the treatment group significantly increased between baseline and all 3 post-tests and there was a significant difference between the treatment group and control group at all posttests for step length.
Conclusions: The instructional set was effective in improving parameters of gait for at least 4 weeks. These data support the concept that people with Parkinson disease have a potential for motor learning.